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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

PUMP IT! Bicycle Pump Track Comes to Skyline Park



By Kathleen Reynolds


Napa now has its own pump track! If you don’t know what a pump track is, this article is for you.


“The bicycle skills course built at Skyline Park is also known as a pump track,” says Ryan Gregory, the organizer for building the track, District 2 County Supervisor and a member of the Redwood Trails Alliance organization. “A pump track is a compact circuit of low rollers, banked turns and features designed to be ridden by riders ‘pumping’ – generating momentum by up and down body movements instead of pedaling. It is fun for all ages and most dirt-oriented bicycles will work.”


“I first got into mountain biking in 1992,” says Ryan. “I got the idea for a pump track from visits to places that already had them like Novato, Bend and Windsor and always thought Napa should have one. There are also a handful of private ones.”

Ryan says there have been a lot of new riders due in some part to the pandemic and the pump track is a great place to get comfortable on your bike before hitting the trails. He started the project in 2018.


“It had to be at Skyline Park, the center of mountain biking for the Napa area,” says Ryan. “I worked with Skyline Park Citizens’ Association President, Andrew Brooks, and Parks Director, Darin Cravea, to determine a location.”


Andrew Brooks says he’s been a Skyline Park user since he was ten years old. He says getting the pump track built was a long process.


“The first and easiest step was to discuss the track at the park’s governing body, our Citizens Association,” says Andrew. “The Association is a volunteer entity comprised of a broad group of park users, and we discussed what some new bicycle-related infrastructure would do to the park. People were generally excited about the track. Our insurer was less sure; these sorts of facilities are somewhat new, and insurers tend to be pretty risk averse.”


Funding was the first obstacle to hurdle. Ryan started with a GoFundMe page. “We raised the first $5,000 in form of small donations from community members,” says Ryan. The track cost about $50,000.


“Then, it ended up taking about 4 years to secure the permitting for the project, not helped by COVID and dealing the with State of California who owns the land. Napa Open Space District staff were key to getting through this. This took a long time, but we never gave up.”

Christopher Cahill is the General Manager of the Napa Open Space District. “The Open Space District is always looking for ways to get all corners of our community out into nature,” says Chris. “The pump track is a great place for kids, young families, and beginning riders, who might be daunted by our steeper or trickier trails like the Oat Hill Mine Trail, to get out and enjoy riding bikes. It’s been great to see that even little toddlers on push bikes love it.”


“The Open Space District did the work of coordinating all the other players who needed to ‘ok’ the new pump track, Chris says. “The State of California owns the land, the County of Napa leases the land from the State and the Skyline Park Citizen’s Association, the nonprofit that ably operates the rest of Skyline Park. Since the Skyline Park Citizen’s Association’s insurance agent said they couldn’t operate a pump track, we stepped up and the pump track is actually ours; it’s a little island of Open Space District park within the larger Skyline Park operation.”


With the project permitted, it was time to raise the rest of the funds. Ryan elaborates, “We secured three large grants that got the fundraising to the finish line: Community Projects, Inc., Athletic Brewing Company and Clif Family Foundation.”



Linzi Gay is the president of Clif Family Winery & Farm. “We have always been interested in supporting more opportunities for people to get outdoors,” says Linzi. “With cycling and mountain biking being a core part of our business, we look for opportunities to support these sports in the Napa Valley community. A pump track is a great way to bring people together in a fun and positive space around a shared interest.”

“As co-creators of Clif Bar & Company, Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford have made ‘Outdoors Fit for Healthy Living’ one of the priorities for the Clif Family Foundation,” continued Linzi. “The goal is to increase resources in communities that enable healthy physical activity and improve mental health. Supporting the creation of the Bicycle Pump Track in Napa Valley allowed them to support this in their own community.”


The pump track is 1,500 sq. ft, and includes two loops, one outer and one inner, in either direction. Ryan estimates it can accommodate as many riders as can go safely, with about a 10 ft. separation, about 10 to 15 riders if they’re all going in the same direction.


“The pump track is a great way to go if you love bikes and want to put a foot in the water of mountain biking,” says Ryan.

Andrew Brooks explains why it’s a good thing for Skyline Park and Napa.


“A pump track is a safe place for mountain bikers of any age and ability to work on their skills; beginners and experts alike can practice and learn how to handle their bikes more safely in a fun, controlled environment,” Andrew says. “It’s easy to get the hang of but it’s surprisingly physically taxing, so it’s a great workout, too. Napa doesn’t have anything else like this that’s open to the public, so it’s a great place for folks to get outside on their bikes, and the skills people learn on the pump track help them ride more safely on the rocky, uneven terrain they might find on the trails at Skyline or elsewhere in the county.”


Clif Family Winery President Linzi Gay adds, “Creating a space where kids and adults can come together outside is so important for our community, especially in an age where we all spend a lot of time at our desks or in front of a screen. A pump track is a great way to get kids excited about getting on a bike, and cycling is a great sport they can carry with them throughout their life.” Chris Cahill sums it up. “As a mountain bike rider, myself, with three young kids who also ride bikes, I can say that pump tracks are just really fun,” says Chris. “Come on out to Skyline with your mountain bike or kids’ bike – with pedals or without – and give it a try. It’s amazing exercise and totally addicting. But if you bring kids, be prepared for a fight when it’s time to leave. They just don’t want to stop.”


The pump track is open to the public every day during Skyline Park hours. Helmets are required while biking. The park has a small entry fee, but there is no additional fee to use the pump track.


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